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Commission to debate growth cap

by Susie Vasquez

Residents will have another chance to comment on a proposed 2-percent growth cap in Douglas County at Thursday’s commission meeting.

The proposal was first introduced Feb. 15 by District Attorney Scott Doyle after last month’s Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Sustainable Growth Initiative, a measure to limit home building permits in Douglas County to 280 a year.

Building permit allocation is one of five growth-management strategies provided for in Douglas County’s master plan and the only one the county has never attempted to implement, Doyle said.

The means for determining a base housing inventory, which is necessary to establish a limit, could be up for debate at Thursday’s meeting.

The program needs to consider a report from the U.S. Geological Survey concerning water availability, but that report isn’t complete. The county may have to consider refinancing debt that would otherwise have been paid through development.

Douglas County’s exposure to lawsuits over the growth cap is not significantly different than that posed by the Sustainable Growth Initiative and should be disregarded, Doyle said.

“All this administration of the master plan and possible amendment of the development code takes time and costs money, but it may culminate in a program palatable to the voters which does not have the legal and administrative concerns present in SGI,” Doyle said.

The Sustainable Growth Initiative was approved by voters in November 2002. Following that approval, Jumpers LLC and Douglas County appealed in district court, where Judge Michael Gibbons ruled against it.

Gibbons’ decision was appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Their ruling remands the issue back to District Court for a decision. District Court Judge Michael Gibbons won’t reconsider the issue until the records are returned from the Supreme Court, which is expected around March 6, Doyle said.

In other business:

n Commissioners are being asked to waive the application, review and permit fees related to construction of the Carson Valley Children’s Center at 3587 Sunridge Drive.

Designed for children up to the age of 17, the project will provide housing for the victims of abuse and neglect in Douglas County.

Right now, children here can’t be moved from potentially unsafe situations because there’s no place to put them. Most children in the program are referrals from Court Appointed Special Advocates.

The children would remain at the center for up to 45 days. Following efforts to improve the family situation, children are either sent back to their families or go to foster care.

n Commissioners are being asked to approve a contract with Eissmann-Pence Architecture-Landscape to design Douglas County’s new law enforcement and jail expansion project, the cost not to exceed $250,000.

n Susie Vasquez can be reached at svasquez@recordcourier.com or 782-5121, ext. 211.

What: Douglas County Commissioners meeting

When: 1 p.m. Thursday

Where: Courtroom of the Douglas County Administration Building, 1616 Eighth St. in Minden